Hekate's Deipnon; The Dark Moon, Prayer, Rituals and More
Last Updated: August 21, 2023
You’ll have maybe noticed we have a lot of articles about the Goddess Hekate on our website, and that’s because she’s revered and respected by so many witches – regardless of faith or belief. Hecate has incredible witchcraft values, from respect for the dead to teaching knowledge regarding herbalism to tending to others in childbirth, and who have witches been if they weren’t guides, doulas, midwives, doctors, scientists and so much more from our collective pasts?
In our series of Witch’s Holidays and Esbats we have mentioned some dates relating specifically to Hekate, and one of them comes around every month. I want to share more about the Deipnon, so read on and comment if we’ve missed anything you may know too!
What is the Deipnon?
A Deipnon is a significant and evocative ritual within ancient Greek tradition, richly interwoven with the mystique of the goddess of witchcraft herself, Hecate. The Deipnon, meaning “supper” or “feast” in Greek, is a heartfelt observance that embodies the interconnectedness of life’s cycles and the profound wisdom of Hecate.
During the Deipnon, devotees gather their household to honor the goddess by leaving offerings at crossroads (even where their front door meets a road, creating a three way crossroad which Hekate guards over), where the mundane world meets the spiritual realm. This act of devotion symbolizes the duality of Hecate herself, representing the liminal spaces between past, present, and future, light and darkness, life and death.
If you partake in this ancient tradition, remember that Hecate’s enduring presence provides a nurturing embrace to those who seek her guidance, wisdom, and protection. Just as the Deipnon marks a moment of connection with the divine, respect for those past, and respect for those in your community regardless of status, let your heart be touched by the genuine warmth in this practice, and find some solace in the timeless bond with Hecate. She’s a symbol of empowerment and transformation on your journey.
When Is The Deipnon Celebrated?
The Deipnon took place during the darkest phase of the lunar cycle, just before the delicate crescent of the new moon began to grace our night sky. This moment of profound connection with the divine would typically fall within a couple of days leading up to the appearance of that returning sliver of light.
Imagine the world hushed and waiting at night, as devotees prepared to offer their heartfelt tributes and seek Hecate’s blessings across the world. In these quiet moments, the ancient Greeks found a meaningful way to honor the rhythm of nature, to honor those who’d passed on, and their own place within the cycles of life. It’s a reminder that even in the shadows, there’s a deep wellspring of wisdom and connection waiting to be embraced.
Witches still celebrate Hekate’s Deipnon today, the night before the new moon. This could be a traditional festival or a more personal ceremony – whatever works best for you and your practice.
How Is The Deipnon Celebrated?
Food offerings were an important part of this ritual. In many cases, these offerings would be left at crossroads so that they can be shared with the poor or the dead, helping to bring some light into their lives too. It’s written historically
On a personal level, you could celebrate the Deipnon in your own home by setting up an altar and creating offerings that hold special meaning for you. This is a perfect time to express love for those who’ve passed on, or to pay homage to Hecate as your deity and to petition her for any neglect to her worship or harm you may have accidentally caused.
The Deipnon also involved cleansing the home, the sacred space and hearth, and it involves taking a moment to not only remember and honor those who passed, but to also give the dead a moment for closure and resolution. This is a great time to practice open communication, where you can offer gentle assurances and speak from the heart.
It’s to mention that when folks left offerings outside, or once they’d performed their rituals, they never looked behind them on the Deipnon. Superstition or respectful tradition, I’d rather not creep myself out and would advocate the same for you too!
Why celebrate Hekate's Deipnon?
Hekate’s Deipnon is a beautiful reminder of how our lives are cyclical, ever-changing but always interconnected. It invites us to find solace in honoring those who’ve come before us, to savor the moment of stillness in between one moon cycle and the next, and to recognize our own powerful connection with the divine. When you join in this timeless ceremony, understand that Hekate is a powerful symbol of witching transformation and empowerment – she may guide your path if you’re open to her presence.
In very practical terms, it can be the “wrap this up” day of your calendar every month, to ensure all of your magickal workings are taken care of, tidied away, altar place all sorted out – as well as any payments that are due are paid, if you have a favour that was overdue to be repaid to complete by the Deipnon, or alternatively to give you a moment of pause to check in on yourself and your family. Hekate’s Deipnon is an ancient tradition that still carries relevant resonance today.
Witches can also use the Deipnon as an opportunity to connect with their ancestors and past relatives, honoring it through actions like wearing clothing they’d passed down or holding a candle in honor of them. This is a lovely way to bring some healing closure into your home, allowing you to enjoy some healing moments for yourself, your grief and those around you.
In ancient Greece, the Deipnon meal was often a few humble offerings of bread, fruits and root vegetables like onions and garlic. Fasting on this day was also quite common – a way to pay respect to Hekate’s presence and her power in your life, then eating after leaving your meal offering. You could adapt this by having a simple meal or fasting depending on what resonates best for you, but for health reasons, I’ll never recommend fasting.
If you make a modern dish for the deipnon, include lots of seasonal ingredients, such as squash or apples – and don’t forget to thank the goddess and the earth for providing them. You could also use something symbolic you’d associated with Hekate in your dish to honor her. This could be anything from a simple herb like parsley (to represent the Underworld) to adding garlic (which was especially dear to Hecate). Even something like a slice of garlic bread can be considered an offering though, and if you’re not in a financial position to want to waste food right now (I mean, who is) you can just put a clove in your pocket or by your front door for now, or nurture regrowth from food you’d typically be wasting (such as regrowing celery or green onions) and offer next cycle.
Deipnon Sacrifice and Offering
Plutarch mentions that Hecate guides souls back to this land for resolutions, for vengeance, for closure, and generally for peace on the Deipnon. So this is a perfect time to choose an offering of something you’d associated with Hecate or your ancestors, like a statue, or incense, oranges, roses, coins.
I’ve seen it written that for expiation (atonement, righting of wrongs and making amends) households had sacrificed dogs to Hekate and then utilising the entrails performed haruspicy to divine whether they were forgiven, or if there was a message.
However you know I’m going to say that this is where I draw the line. We can honour Hekate in other ways that are not cruel and inhumane – such as leaving simple offerings of food, drinks, and incense on her altar. Of course you could also perform rituals to petition her for something or thank her for something else (the list is endless).
I personally love to use essential oils or creating herb candles for my offerings, especially those associated with Hekate like cypress and myrrh. This is a great way to customize your offering and anoint yourself or others in attendance if you wish.
Finally, take some time during the new moon festival to practice divination, reflection, and meditation on where you are now and what direction it will lead. I’ve got some new moon tarot spreads you could use (and the dark moon spreads will be up soon too, so subscribe to the newsletter to hear updates!)
Cleansing the home for the Deipnon (and Noumenia) was like giving your living space a big, cozy hug, too. Imagine it like tidying up, dusting away the cobwebs, and lighting a soothing scented candle. It was a chance to hit the reset button for households back then, creating a fresh start for both your surroundings and your mindset. As the Deipnon closed one lunar chapter and the Noumenia opened another, this cleaning ritual was like a friendly handshake with the universe.
By freshening up your space, you were saying goodbye to the old and inviting in the new with a warm smile. So whether it was sweeping the floors or letting some sunlight in, people were taking a moment to honor the cycle of life while setting the stage for brighter days ahead.
Alternative activities for Hekate’s Deipnon
- Settling financial debts you may owe to friends, family or in business (or side hustles)
- Food bank donations or work out of a soup kitchen, even hosting a potluck buffet for a night in
- Smoke cleanse your home with burning mugwort, rosemary or garden-grown sage
- Create protective door washes with onions and garlic-infused moon water to ward your spaces
- Burn a white or black candle for ancestor veneration
- Gather the family with an offering of food, drink and incense to share stories about those who have passed
- Exchange genuine heartfelt letters, tokens and gifts with loved ones to remember those not present
- Hang windchimes outside your home for celestial blessings from the goddess Hekate
- Spend time helping out at a dog’s sanctuary or aiding/fundraising for dog’s charities like the Battersea Dogs Home in the UK
- Sit in quiet meditation, reflecting on your achievements and what areas of life you’d like to work on in the coming cycle. Ask Hekate for guidance and wisdom if you need it, to see if she comes through in visualisation or visions.
- Spend time crafting or writing – perhaps a poem, story or song about Hekate’s many facets or tales from days gone by.
Deipnon Ritual for Hekate
As seekers of wisdom and compassion, we are going to create a sacred space where the veil between worlds grows thin. As witches gather under the watchful gaze of the goddess Hekate, we honor our ancestors, embrace those facing hardships, and weave ourselves into the universal tapestry. We’re gonna approach this backyardbanshee.com style!
Preparing Your Space
Find a quiet, comfortable spot where you can be undisturbed. Light a few candles, allowing their gentle glow to illuminate both the physical and spiritual realms. Take a deep breath, then a few more, centering yourself in this moment.
Hold a photograph, an object, or simply the memory of your beloved ancestors close to your heart. With love and gratitude, speak their names aloud. Share a fond memory or a message of appreciation for the wisdom they’ve passed down to you or thanks for paving the way so that you can be here in the now. Feel their presence around you, like a warm embrace that transcends time and space.
A Feast for the Soul
Place a small plate of food, a glass of water, and a candle on your altar or a energetically cleansed shelf/windowsill. These offerings symbolize sustenance for those who have journeyed beyond and those who need nourishment in their lives today. As you light the candle, imagine its flame carrying your intentions to those who need support.
Connect with Hekate
Hold an image or your personal representation of Hekate before you. With a heart full of reverence, express your desire to connect with her guidance, wisdom, and protection. Feel her presence as a comforting energy, bridging the gap between the seen and the unseen.
Take a moment to reflect on your own blessings. As you do, consider those who are struggling financially or facing food scarcity. Open your heart to their plight, and imagine a warm, golden light radiating from your heart, leaving you to spreading and envelop them in a reassuring embrace too.
Weaving into the Universe
Close your eyes and visualize the vast, interconnected web spanning across the cosmos. As you breathe in, imagine drawing in the energy of the universe, a nurturing force that sustains us all. With each exhale, release your intentions into this cosmic tapestry, knowing that you are an essential thread in the fabric of existence.
Closing and Gratitude:
Take a final moment to express your gratitude to Hekate, your ancestors, and the universe itself. Blow out the candle on your altar, sending any of your intentions into the world. Carry the warmth of this ritual with you, knowing that you’ve honored your past, supported the present, and woven your hopes into the future.
In the embrace of this ritual, you’ve created a bridge between hearts, generations, and galaxies. If after the ritual you are able to support local food banks or charities please do so. May the light of Hekate’s wisdom guide your journey forward, and may the universe’s abundant energy be your constant companion regardless.
Deipnon Prayer To Hekate
“Hekate of the triple way,
We honour you in this special day.
We thank you for your guidance and protection,
Your wisdom that we humbly seek.
Bless us with strength beyond our measure,
So that we may follow our true path with surety and pleasure.
Let this offering be accepted upon your altar tonight,
Grant us your blessings of courage and might.
Our hearts, minds, and souls open to you,
We seek to align with what is true.
Thank you for being there in our darkest of times,
For helping us reach for the stars at our highest of heights.
Dark Moon Ritual for Secular Witches
We’ve talked a lot about Hekate and whilst we can have so much respect for her, we can also not-yet work with her and her energy. We skate over the fact that the Deipnon is happening on essentially the dark moon, and therefore it can be a powerful time for secular witches to practice rituals of their own.
This could draw aspects from tarot, astrology or other pagan practices, as long as it resonates with you and your goals. It’s about connecting deeply to the energy of the dark moon in whatever way works best for you – even if that means simply spending some time in solitude to work out what “best for you” looks like.
Here’s a simple ritual you can use indoors, that’s low energy and hones in to the themes of the dark moon energy:
- Begin by lighting a black, white or grey candle to set your intention. Set a timer on your phone or tablet for however long you’d like the ritual to last (anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour should suffice).
- Write down what your intentions are with this dark moon ritual – make sure they’re not only wishes but also that they are realistic and achievable – then fold them up and place them near the candle. You can use your phone again, but I love pen to paper, so it’s whatever suits you best.
- Put on calming music, preferably something with dark elements, solfeggio frequencies or some kind of lofi sound. Take a few minutes to just relax and get into your focused ritual space.
- When you’re ready, start drawing tarot cards – either one by one for each intention or in groups of three.
- Meditate on what the cards mean to you and how they’re related to your intentions. Think about how this could be used to inform your next steps in reaching these goals.
- When the timer goes off, thank the universe for any guidance and pull the tarot reading together – either by writing down a summary or talking through it with someone else.
Whether for a seasonal festival or a celebration of one of the many deities, there is something special about connecting with our past and honouring traditions in our own way. The power of these ancient festivals continues to be celebrated today by modern witches, pagans, druids and spiritualists around the world.
What is secular witchcraft? It is a form of witchcraft that does not draw upon any religious beliefs.
Herbs are often used in magickal workings, so having the right plants for Hekate can be beneficial in spiritually connecting with her.